Financial adviser says he was fired because he cooperated with FBI in Pilot investigation

A Knoxville financial adviser is suing Morgan Stanley, saying the company fired him for cooperating with the FBI in the investigation of the Pilot Flying J truck stop chain owned by the family of Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam and Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam.

Morgan Stanley issued a statement dismissing the allegations and promising to fight the suit.

The lawsuit filed in Knoxville federal court on Thursday alleges that John Verble was fired after colleagues confronted him about whether he was cooperating with law enforcement.

According to the lawsuit, Verble had been spotted getting into a car with what appeared to be FBI agents in May 2013 — less than a month after Pilot's headquarters were raided.

The lawsuit claims Verble had a role in the eventual guilty pleas of 10 former members of the Pilot sales team, though it does not go into specifics. The FBI did not respond to a request for comment Friday.

Federal agents raided Pilot's headquarters in 2013 to investigate the privately held company's withholding of fuel rebates to trucking customers. An affidavit unsealed shortly after the raid said agents had first been tipped off to the scheme by an unidentified informant two years earlier.

Pilot last year agreed to pay $92 million in fines and accept responsibility for the criminal conduct of its employees, while the government agreed not to prosecute the company. The company previously settled a class-action lawsuit by agreeing to pay out nearly $85 million to 5,500 customers.

Jimmy Haslam, the company's CEO, has not been charged with any crime. Bill Haslam has not had a management role in the company since he first ran for Knoxville mayor in 2003.